Q

Sharing wireless connections without PCI cards or APs

I have a laptop and a desktop (both running Windows XP Pro) linked to each other with a wireless network. I have a second desktop that is not connected to ANY network.

Is it possible to connect the second PC, with either a USB or Network cable, to a laptop, so that the second PC

may access the Internet with the laptop's Wi-Fi capabilities?

I don't want to buy a wireless PCI card or access point for the second desktop. I don't use it enough to warrant it.

 

First, you need to connect your desktop to your laptop. Since you don't want to buy a wireless card for your desktop and they only cost around $50, I assume you're looking for a dirt-cheap wired connection. If your laptop has a built-in Ethernet port and your desktop already has an Ethernet card, purchase an Ethernet crossover cable to connect the two systems directly. This will cost you around $10 for a ten-foot cable. If your desktop doesn't have an Ethernet card, you can pick up a cheap 10BaseT PCI card for under $20. Configure both Ethernet cards with a static IP address -- for example, the 192.168.0.1 for the laptop and 192.168.0.2 for the desktop, netmask 255.255.255.0. To verify the connection, open a DOS window and use the ping command (e.g., on 192.168.0.1, ping 192.16.0.2).

Next, configure your laptop's wireless connection to enable Internet Connection Sharing. Under Network Connections, use the wireless card's Properties panel Advanced tab and follow instructions to enable ICS. You probably do not need to let others control the shared connection since your wireless connection will be available at all times (it's not a dial-up connection). If you run into trouble with Internet Connection Sharing, search WinXP Help and Microsoft's Web site for how-to articles.

Finally, if you have to buy an Ethernet PCI card for your desktop anyway, consider that a cheap USB wireless adapter would not be much more expensive, and would probably be a better solution. The crossover cable makes sense if you already have Ethernet on both systems and really only need this connection very infrequently.

 

This was first published in November 2003

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